Looming competition for county’s trash contract

As trash companies compete for the contract to collect much of San Mateo County’s waste, locals may end up receiving state-of-the-art recycling services.

The South Bayside Waste Management Authority handles trash and recycling services for 10 Peninsula cities, from Burlingame to East Palo Alto, along with parts of unincorporated San Mateo County.

Currently, SBWMA contracts with Allied Waste to collect garbage in those areas, but the contract expires in 2010. SBWMA is getting ready to seek new bidders who would offer a range of new services, from weekly one-bin recycling service to curbside pickup of motor oil, cell phones and used batteries, according to director Kevin McCarthy.

“It will probably be the most comprehensive curbside programs in the Bay Area,” McCarthy said. “We’ll go from being one of the worst to probably the best.”

Those improvements would elevate the region’s trash service significantly, McCarthy said. Eighteen months ago, it was fielding constant complaints from customers regarding Allied’s track record of missed pickups and long customer-service hold times.

“Service levels have improved greatly,” said Allied General Manager Evan Boyd. “Our missed pickups were substantial before, but now we are providing service above industry standards.”

Allied fared much better on its April 2007 performance review, McCarthy said.

The company that provides SBWMA’s trash service after 2010 will need to add a number of services. Right now, recycled material must be separated and is picked up every two weeks; under the new plan, everything can be mixed together and will be picked up weekly, according to McCarthy. In addition, customers will be able to put yard trimmings and food scraps in their green bins for composting.

SBWMA expects to send out the request for contract proposals Nov. 1, once all the member agencies have had a chance to sign off on the bidding process, according to Brian Moura, former chair of the SBWMA and assistant city manager in San Carlos.

When that happens, Allied intends to compete for the contract. In fact, next year the company hopes to start offering some of the services SBWMA is pushing for, such as battery recycling and weekly yard-waste pickup, and hopes to fuel its trucks with biodiesel, according to Boyd.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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